Our Enduring Incivility and the Promise of Aspen Seminars

by Todd Breyfogle, Ph.D.

When Walter Paepcke, Robert Maynard Hutchins, and Mortimer Adler set out the Aspen Idea, they recognized that our ability to make humane judgments depended upon the practice of civil discourse, both in organizations and in political institutions. They recognized with Aristotle that to live in a city, as citizens, was above all to understand ourselves as civil beings — civility, from the Latin civis (civitas translating the Greek polis), is the virtue of being able to live together not by violence or coercion, but by deliberation and persuasion. Politics which ceases to be civil, ceases to be politics at all, properly speaking.     

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